As one who has worked as an in instructor lo these many yearsteaching the Irish about their own culture- a virtual lost culturalluggage department finding folklore and customs lost on the wayto these shores....
I have long wondered about the relationship of the Claddagh designto the Irish Americans I have met. In every class, in every semester someone, usually someone of Irish descent inquires: "Mr.Bladey I have this beautiful ring. ....
I would like to know....and in some cases....I took this course to find out
the story of the Claddagh Ring."
Being a professional I calmly and politely tell following tale.....
The American Folkloric Tale of the Claddagh Ring
One day long ago.....a man and a woman both on vacation in Ireland
chanced to meet in beautiful Galway City on the Shores of the breathtaking
The man was handsome; the girl beautiful.
They had many things in common and were soon out on the town sampling
the wonderful oysters and stout for which the city is famous. Late into the
evening they drank and ate at the sessions and then later still they danced
until the wee hours at the ceili at the church hall. They had such a good time
that they found themselves the next morning in the same bed....shocked and being fervent Catholics
and mindful of the rules of the Pope of Rome the pair realized that they would have to straight off
and get married once they reached America.
Their love was strong and true and they set out the next morning to purchase a pair of rings for the
wedding. And being in Galway there is of course, no other alternative save the Galway ring itself the
scourge of the world of the Irish and of others.
They found just such a ring in a quaint and very cute jeweler's shop near the
old town of Claddagh a part of Galway not far from the Spanish Arch.
They picked out a wonderful and very expensive pair of identical rings and
they sat down with the ancient, rose cheeked jeweler to have them sized.
As the jewler sized the rings the jeweler told the pair a wonderful cute (and totally false and
contrived) story of the rings, and, asked if they would like the story on a presentation
fake velum scroll which goes with a special more costly presentation package for the rings complete
with seaweed flocked ring boxes. They agreed and paid the $1,000 extra for the presentation
package. Much impressed they thanked the jeweler and left to pack for both had canceled their
hotel rooms and had made arrangements to fly back home immediately.
Upon returning to America the couple immediately summoned all of their
friends and quickly brought over to the brides home her cousin the priest
and the wedding was arranged. It went very well considering the haste
and the priest read out the story of the rings in his rich southern USA brogue
as part of the ceremony. He read from the mock parchment scroll the silly
story of the rings.
The crowd was impressed with the tale. They asked for it to be told again
and again at the reception and as many photos were taken of the rings as of
the two who were married! At last everyone went home and the pair set off
on their new life.
Ten years later in memory of the occasion the two thought to celebrate their
anniversary with a party to which all of the original guests were invited.
Everyone turned up and halfway through the party a few of the guests called
once again for the charming story of the ring!
The room went silent as the couple became the focus of attention. But the silence lasted and lasted, and the pair went red faced and could hardly say
a word. At last tearfully the bride spoke. I am afraid I don't know the story
of the rings. With that an audible gasp came from all in attendance and then
in an instant all the many guests rushed from the room nearly causing a panic.
The couple had not seen or heard from any of their friends from that they
until.....they took my course and heard the story of the ring. Once they
had regained it they notified their friends and once again they all returned
to a celebration this time for the couple's 50th anniversary. By that time all of their friends and some
of them with grand children all had Claddagh rings, but, they had all to a one,
also, lost the story....and so the cry went out in utmost earnest this time....
TELL US THE TALE OF THE RING!!!!
And so the elderly bride in an elderly voice told the silly story of the ring and they all went home
within the Irish tradition to...... forget it once again!
So that is the American Folkloric Version of the Story of the Claddagh ring
which infact -the story of a story, which is almost always forgotten!
Conrad Jay Bladey- Celtic Studies
To Return to the Official Claddagh Ring Pages Click Here!